Sunday 24 April 2011

April Roses

This Iceberg climber has flowered until Christmas some years, but I've never known blooms on it in the third week of April. We inherited it from the previous owners in 1986, and it really enjoys the sun-trap created by the extension we built 15 years ago. Perhaps it's coming out in sympathy with my best beloved's knee, but I suspect it's just the exceptionally early warmth.

Now we've cheated because this house is 3 miles from the South Coast on the edge of the New Forest, and most boating bloggers currently seem to be somewhere north of Oxford. But does anyone else have pictures of something surprisingly early?

Saturday 23 April 2011


On Friday morning, the washing machine delivery man rang to say he'd be with us in half an hour. Top marks to them for getting it sorted ahead of schedule. Unfortunately, this was Good Friday, and the delivery address was not our home but Marine Services at Great Haywood marina. Not much chance of anyone being there to receive it! His response to being reminded it was a Bank Holiday was surprise that it should matter – they didn't get any days off. "But no hassle", he said, "just ring the company to re-schedule it." Which I did, equally surprised that there would be anyone there to take my call, and respond to my follow-up email. I just hope their enthusiasm for a timely delivery doesn't get them to Great Haywood on Wednesday before the boys start work.

The phone calls meant I missed the central part of an interesting BBC programme on forgiveness. This may be a key theme of the Easter story, but it's been especially emphasised this year in things that I've seen or been a part of. Forgiveness seems to have been a crucial element in Ruanda recovering from the tragedies of the 1994 genocide. Personally, I want to hope that it will also play a significant role in the aftermath of the current troubles in North Africa and the Middle East.

Thursday 14 April 2011

38 and counting

In the style of the boating blogger: 3 nights, 0 miles, 0 locks. We stayed put! The unpredictable wind meant this was not the right time to explore the wonders of single-handed boat control, in spite of some recent encouraging posts from those who do it all the time. So instead we used the excuse of picking up a roll of window sealing stuff from the chandlers at Penkridge to do a gentle exploration of some Staffordshire countryside, by car. When the knee is back to its normal size, with some semblance of strength and flexibility, we'd like to do some further exploration on foot, as well as by water.

Anyway, the weather was going to get wetter, so home we came on Wednesday, well pleased with what we'd achieved. The knee had not complained too much, and my best beloved not at all. Today's our 38th, so we're off out to celebrate in a restaurant overlooking Poole harbour, where the boats cost considerably more than what we forked out for the Erin Mae. We're content.

Monday 11 April 2011


You wouldn't want things to be completely predictable, would you? You plan a week's cruise, and then have to make allowances for a new knee. You ask Engineering to complete the work on Erin Mae's plumbing, and they tell you the calorifier is split. For those who don't know, that's the hot water tank. Probably the aftermath of the November freeze, which happened in the middle of the purchase process. So it has to be replaced, and there's no running water till that's done.

Are we despondent? No! Just a bit further out of pocket. Why sit around doing therapeutic exercises at home when we could be doing them on the Erin Mae! So up we came (without The Chair). Sunday was glorious, and my best beloved sat in state on the cruiser stern enjoying the ducks and the heron and the hot air balloons against the early evening sky, while her devoted slave shifted the luggage, hung the curtains, put away the new kitchen gear, made up the bed, got the food, fell asleep...!  Monday morning, she was up betimes for the sake of the analgesic routine, while her devoted slave...remained in bed asleep. Well, she's on sick leave whie I'm on annual leave. There must be a difference.

Today was a typical April mixture, not exactly good for sitting out. But we were able to arrange with Engineering for the new calorifier, order a washing machine to be installed at the same time, and survive a whole day without running water on board. Filled up the kettle and the bucket from the tap don't know how many times. Used the oven for the first time for a lasagne. Two nights in a row on board! Not quite sure what tomorrow will bring. But that's half the fun.

Wednesday 6 April 2011

Antidote to baa-lambs

Several narrowboat bloggers have been busy snapping the new season’s source of thermal underwear thread and Irish stew. There’s a definite “Ah” factor loose in the wild.

So, from the last fortnight's Major Event in our household, here’s something completely different, with a definite “Ugh” factor. All those of a sensitive disposition, please close the blog now, without scrolling down. You have been warned!




This post was primarily for our friend Iain in Oz, who used to shepherd sheep in Scotland before pastoring people down under, who shares the experience of new knee technology, but had only 24 clips, judging from the photo, and who’s about to pay a visit to climb a Munro or two, and perhaps hire a narrowboat alongside us for a week. We’re getting there, Iain. Erin Mae awaits.

Monday 4 April 2011

Pulling the pins

Living in Brazil, we learnt Portuguese. Boating, we learn words and phrases like lockwheeling, skeg and pulling pins. The last of these is a bit like what our friend and practice nurse Shirley did with my best beloved's knee this evening. Snip, snip – out came the staples, all 27.

That pulling pins is usually done in the morning is irrelevant. As half the readers of this blog will know, it means you're leaving your mooring, getting underway on the next stage of your journey. That's what it felt like as we left the surgery. Flexibility and freedom, if still somewhat restrained by the cut.

It's the first visit to the physio tomorrow. Lockwheeling is still some way off!